Loki: Truth or Dare?

Those of us who follow Loki have realized a truth about him: That he wants to help us find our own truth and live thereby. Out of all the personalities in the Norse pantheon, Loki stands out as the one who plays most to the duality of our own humanity. We all have within us a force for the positive, and we all have within us a force for the negative. We also have the power to bridge the positive and the negative within ourself.

By his examples throughout the Mythos, Loki reveals over and over again that however he makes mistakes -like when he had to make promises to save his own life- he eventually takes action to rectify the situation, as when he promised Thiassi the apples of immortality and Idunn in order to free himself and later tricked the giant to free Idunn and return the apples to the Aesir. Loki has also gotten carried away with his own cleverness. In bargaining with some dwarfs, he not only replaced Sif’s hair, but obtained Mjolnir and Skridblader for Thor and Freyr, and he managed to trade away his own head. In saving his own head, he got his lips sewn shut for his troubles. What better symbol for us than to be careful what we say or what we promise?

Many people have demonized Loki because of the subliminal Christian influence of creating devils where there were formerly Tricksters or mischievous characters. Loki is a Trickster, and he is very good at revealing to us our own dual nature. Human emotion from the reptilian brain influences many of our actions: happiness or sadness, patience or anger, courage or fear, joy in another’s pleasure or jealousy… The negative emotional reactions often seem more powerful than the positive, but it is always our choice to respond positively or react from the immediate power of the emotion we are feeling. Christianity has covered these ideas as the “Seven Deadly sins” and the corresponding positive qualities that the saints struggled to attain, but prior to Christianity, we had the Gods and the revealer of our dual nature, the Trickster God Loki.

Loki suffers many things as he gets the Gods into and out of troubles of one type or another. But one of the things we see happening in the Lore, is that Loki is often made the scapegoat, and eventually ostracized from the group. Although the group of Aesir decided to have the giant and his horse build the wall around Asgard, when it appears as though they will lose the bargain, they blame Loki for making the decision and demand again that Loki get them out of it. Which he does by changing himself into a mare. When the Aesir learn of Loki’s three children with Angrboda, he is further ostracized and his children kidnapped and dealt with as Odin saw fit in ways that made the group-mind feel safer. So Loki in the Lore is sitting upon a lot of anger by the time of the Lokasenna, in feeling that ostrisation and having his children dealt with so disrespectfully.

Consider this: Whenever something threatened the group-mind of the Aesir community, they stood against Loki, the mind of original thought and original action. I do not include Odin in the “group-mind” because I believe he and the Trickster always stood tight; they (and Hoenir) were the God-brothers who created humanity out of trees and they have a vested reason to see humanity succeed in its “Becoming.” Odin himself is an exquisite teacher of learning from Chaos along the path of self-development: One clue is that he keeps Ravens named Thought and Memory. The group-mind bands together because of fear. It is the source of gossip and discouragement of those who would act outside of the group. The Aesir banding together represents the strength we find in numbers and the safety of the Garth…

~BUT~

They fail to see beyond appearances. Let’s consider the myth of Balder from a different perspective, Icelandic version, not Saxo’s. Balder has bad dreams, so an over-protective momma goes all around and extracts promises from all Beings Everywhere to never harm her momma’s boy. Except she dismisses the mistletoe as too insignificant. Then because everyone feels so very safe that no harm will come to Balder, everyone starts taking shots at him. The group-mind has created the perfect setup for the tragedy that comes. Momma has told a strange woman (blaming Loki and not her own loose lips) about the mistletoe. When Hoder, who is blind, joins in the fun, it is the group-mind that is blind to its own part in the killing. Again they blame Loki, who is then bound. The only one who continues to see value in Loki, is Sigyn, who holds the bowl with unwavering faith and love for her husband.

The appearance of things that the group-mind falls prey to are the aspects of the five senses that prevents the individuals within the group-mind from seeing the deeper and darker aspects of their own truth, the truth that Loki in person and through the Mythos exists to guide us to find. We all carry our share of light and shadow, and the search for self-knowledge really the only way to reveal that which we carry. To what are we blind and to what are we capable of seeing? The Norse Mythos is so rich here in its symbolism. The blind guy shooting at Baldur -who represents the best of how we want other people to perceive us- and Loki blinded by the venom of his own anger in the Lokasenna -that causes him to act as he does- serve to teach us about our own reactions to aspects of our own lives. It is somehow comforting to have Gods that can act as badly or as goodly as we humans ourselves, and there is the “blending part” within the sacred stories that keep them trying and moving forward through their lives.

In fact this is the partnership of the three God-brothers who created humanity out of trees. I have written about this here. Theirs is the partnership of creative mind (Odin/Voden), (Vili/Hoenir) emotion, and body (Ve/Lodur/Loki). When we are one in ourselves, these three aspects gifted us by the three brothers work together well and we make our choices based upon the good information of our own experience. When these three forces are not working in accord within ourselves, our choices are not informed. We might do all we can (like Baldur’s momma) to protect all that we hold dear, but maybe our loose lips give away our secrets or our intentions and we scatter the power of our focused concentration and the choices that we make go wrong. To avoid our own accountability, there is always someone or something to blame. Until we accept accountability, we will fail to see our own truth, and this is what Loki pushes us to find so that we may become authentic and self-realized human beings.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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